OK, I admit to being an unabashed and unapologetic fan of most things military. My own time in the US Air Force (1957- 61) was peacetime service between the conflicts in Korea and Viet Nam. I was lucky.
While in the AF I was often in the company of veterans of World War II and Korea. Having grown up watching films depicting the heroism and sacrifices of those veterans, I was always a bit star-struck in their company, always anxious to hear about their experiences, although it turned out that most of them waved off questions and seemed often to avoid speaking of their exploits.
No matter – all my life I’ve looked up to members of “The Greatest Generation,” the men and women who were soldiers, sailors, marines, “Coasties,” and Army Air Corps (later Air Force) veterans. And despite reservations about Viet Nam and other conflicts since Korea, I’ve never waivered in my respect for those who put their lives on the line for my country.
And so when I learned that a book club pal and a golfing pal, WWII veterans, were on the Triangle Flight of Honor to Washington, DC on October 26, 2011, I quickly made plans to welcome them home that evening at the Raleigh/Durham Airport.
To learn about the Flight of Honor program, go to www.honorflight.org.
For the program here in the Triangle: www.triangleflightofhonor.com
One hundred and two tired WWII veterans were welcomed home in the atrium of the Raleigh/Durham Airport parking facility, complete with the North Carolina State Marching Band, majorettes, and cheerleaders. Also on hand were my wife Karen and I and several hundred cheering family members, friends, and others who just wanted to say thanks.
It was a wonderful, exhilarating, and three Kleenex event.
Next: short articles about the two veterans we went to greet and a story of another veteran I first wrote about for our local newspaper.